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Saturday, December 17, 2011

Sabudana Vada/Wada - Tapioca and Potato Fritters

This is an absolutely delicious delicacy. Tapioca is called "sabudana" in the Hindi and Marathi languages (the pronounciation varies a little), and Vada/Wada refers to deep fried dumplings. "Sabunada Vada are deep fried fritters/dumplings made with tapioca and potato, with a lot of ground peanuts sprinkled in. Absolutely lip smacking!! This is a dish that is reserved for special occasions and is one of the foods approved to be eaten on fasting days. However, most folks make it because it is so tasty. Over the years I have eaten this often, in different restaurants, at home and cooked by others and I must say, sometimes the vada can taste terrible, very chewy and dry. As a result, I had always been hesitant to make it, thinking that the recipe to get it perfect could be quite complicated. Finally, upon my family's repeated requests, I decided to try it out. I followed the advise of mom and lo and behold the end result was delicious. I am always thrilled when I am able make a recipe that I have always thought to be difficult. This one has a great end result,  and I hope you enjoy this recipe as well.

2 cups tapioca/sabudana (it should measure 2 cups after being soaked. Start off with 1 cup dry tapioca)
2 large potatoes, boiled and mashed
1 cup shingada/singada/singoda flour (water chestnut flour)
1 cup ground nut powder (see tips for how to make this)
1 tsp cumin powder
green chillies, finely chopped (5-8, to taste)
1/4 tsp baking soda
salt to taste
1/2 cup cilantro, chopped
1 tsp lemon juice
1/2 tsp sugar
1 tsp oil, luke warm
oil to fry

See tips on how to soak the tapioca. Take the soaked tapioca and then crush it lightly, by processing in a blender or food processor. This will make it easier to mix it in with the potatoes. Then mix together the processed tapioca, singoda flour and potates. Add salt, cumin powder, ground nut powder, baking soda, and the cilantro. Add the lemon juice, sugar and the luke warm oil. Now mix this all together and knead a little, to form a dough. Take a fistfull of this dough and form it into a ball. Then flatten it to make a disc. Rest these discs on a plastic paper/sheet, so that it doesn't stick to the plate. The discs should be about 2-3 inches in diameter.

Heat the oil in a deep pan. There should be at least 3 inches of oil so that the vada can be entirely immersed in it. To test if the oil has heated enough, drop a inch of dough into the oil. If it rises up slowly, the oil is hot enough. The vadas need to be fried medium heat, so that they cook through. If fried on high heat, they will get cooked on the outside but will stay raw in the center.  Now, slowly release one vada from the side of the pan, it will go to the base of the pan and then slowly rise, once the vada starts gettting cooked. The vada will puff up and once browned, is ready to be taken out. Let the vadas rest on a paper towel to absorb the oil. These vadas will be light and very crispy. Serve with green chutney.

Singoda/shingada is water chestnut. You can find singoda/shingada flour in the local Indian store. Fry only 1-2 vadas at a time. As soon as the vada is added to the oil, the temperature of the oil decreases. So, fry only a couple at a time so that they get fried evenly and cooked through completely.
I also baked this dough, at 405 F for about 10-15 minutes, turning it over once, but these were not as crispy, though definitely low in calories.
To soak the tapioca, cover it completely with water such that there is enough water to cover all of hte tapioca and then add some more so that the water level is about a centimeter above the level of the tapioca. Soak this for at least 3-4 hours or overnight and then drain the water.


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